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Saha Lawson, which runs Lawson 108 convenience stores in Thailand, has awarded franchise rights to oil group Susco to open outlets at its new petrol stations.
Under the agreement, part of Japanese company’s bid to grow Lawson 108 outlets to 500 units by 2020, Susco will initially open two stores at new petrol stations in Bangkok and Rayong this year.
Saha Lawson senior GM Hideki Takechi says the number of Lawson stores at Susco outlets is targeted to reach 20 branches next year.
Lawson had 84 stores nationwide last year, about 80 per cent of them in Bangkok and the balance in other provinces including Ayutthaya, Chon Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima, Prachin Buri and Rayong. The company plans to increase its outlets to 100 by year-end and open at least 400 branches in the following three years.
Of these, the company will open half of them with the rest going to franchisees.
Takechi says Susco is among 20 companies and individual investors that have shown interest in obtaining a licence from Lawson.
“We are ready to start our franchise with Susco as a pilot project, and we expect that will help springboard the expansion of Lawson convenience stores upcountry.”
He says that Japan, with an estimated population of 127 million, has 55,000 convenience stores while Thailand, with nearly 69 million people, has 15,000, “leaving ample room for growth”.
Sales of some Japanese items at Lawson, including Odeng processed seafood-meatballs, have increased 10-fold in Saha Lawson Thailand’s first year, and Takechi says Lawson will be promoting exclusive food items to differentiate its stores. It aims to boost Japanese food items to 30 per cent of its sales mix, up from 20 per cent last year.
Lawson expanded its convenience-store business to Thailand in August 2013 by setting up Saha Lawson as a JV with Thai consumer products conglomerate Saha Group.
Lawson also has stores in China, Indonesia, the Philippines and the US.